3 things you probably didn't know about the ocean plastic crisis

  • How does marine litter accumulate? Where is the waste that ends up in the ocean actually generated?
  •  What happens to all microplastics? How are their additives toxic?
  • First group of fishermen committed to collecting sea garbage. 

We all know by now that an average of 8-13 million tons of plastic enters our seas and oceans every year. With new studies available based on global-scale estimates we know that poorly managed plastic in coastal populations can potentially reach the ocean and damage most, if not all, marine species. But, what happens with the garbage generated by marine sources such as maritime transport, fishing, aquaculture and blue tourism?

 

Lines and spots of marine debris | REUCSE 

    1. STAINS AND LINES: DIFFERENT FORMS OF MARINE DEBRIS ACCUMULATION

    These spots are formed in subtropical areas due to the inertial movement of the earth and are associated with large subtropical gyres formed in the global convergence zones in the North and South Atlantic Ocean, the North and South Pacific Ocean and the Indian Ocean. These are structures of several hundred kilometres where the amount of garbage is high, but it is scattered over a large area.

    As we get closer to shore, the garbage can accumulate in other types of structures that take other forms. In these cases, instead of being a kind of stain, they become irregular lines between 10 m and 10 km in length, which the scientific community has called garbage lines or marine litter windrows. Its understanding continues to be a great challenge for the scientific community.

    However, the fact that garbage accumulates in these types of structures on the coast makes it possible for collection actions in coastal waters to be efficient. Without structures of this type, active collection would be unthinkable. This is Mother Earth's way of helping us clean her oceans. 

    Microplastics in the ocean | REUCSE

    2. MICROPLASTICS: TOXICITY OF PLASTIC ADDITIVES

    Microplastics, considered emerging pollutants, are plastic particles with a size between 1 µm and 5 mm, of different plastic materials, shapes and colors. This type of marine pollution is divided into two groups:

    • Primary microplastics are those that are industrially produced with this size for different purposes: cosmetics, paints, fertilizers, etc.
    • Secondary microplastics are those that are produced in the environment as a result of fragmentation and degradation processes (wear, friction, weather changes, etc.) of larger plastic pieces that have reached the environment due to poor management on land.

    While different studies have already demonstrated the great abundance of microplastics in our waters, land and atmosphere, new studies have shown the bioaccumulation of nano and microplastics in most animal fauna. Therefore, there are now more and more studies that test the toxicity of plastic additives, which may be more toxic than the plastics themselves.

     

    Fishermen committed to save the ocean

     3. FIRST GROUP OF FISHERMEN COMMITTED TO THE OCEAN PLASTIC CRISIS

    More than 30 fishermen attended the seminar on the collection of marine garbage in Spain, which they committed to recover more than 500 kg of plastic waste from the Valencian and Galician coasts in 2021.

    Fishermen are one of the protagonists of this great project for the seas and ocean in Spain. They will be in charge of the indirect collection of marine litter by correctly distributing in different containers set up for it in the ports according to the type of waste and material, all while they are fishing. 

    Their work will allow the analysis and subsequent classification of the materials for their recovery. It is estimated that during the duration of the project (until the end of 2023) more than 1000 kilos of plastic waste can be collected.